Sunday, August 27, 2023

Why Names and Titles Matter: Lessons from The Great Questioner...

A new school year—new students, new names. Lots of new names, but not all of them. One girl walked in and said "Good morning, Coach!" She paused and said "I'm sorry, I mean Ms. Stricherz." I have known this young woman for quite some time; we met through golf. "I appreciate the error. No harm, no foul—right?" I said. "We'll get there..."

I wasn't lying. I appreciate the error. I love being called "Coach," even though I'm not this year or this season. Even more, I value that this young woman recognized in the classroom, we have a different relationship. We do. In Room 202, there's no questions about our match schedule, what part of the game we are working on, or the practice plan for the week. No. In this space we are learning about Jesus through the Gospel of Matthew: RS 201 Christology. And little did she know, this conversation set the perfect context for Sunday's Gospel reading. It is one of my favorites. 

Informally known as "The Jesus Question," this passage of scripture appears in all three synoptics Gospels. Who do you say that I am?  is one of the most important questions Jesus chose to ask his disciples. And, it doesn't end there. It is a very personal question, too.

There are so many ways to think of Jesus: a prophet, a holy man, teacher and spiritual leader. One answer I think that bears consideration is: the great questioner. How? Why?

As taught by Dan Groody, CSC

  • In the Gospels, Jesus is asked 187 Questions
  • Jesus answers 3 Questions
  • Jesus asks 307 Questions 
  • For every question Jesus answers, He asks 100.

What does this reveal about Christ the Teacher?! What does it suggest to you? Jesus wants to know what we hear and what we think? Jesus helps us come to our own answers? Maybe Jesus knows we are all dealing with our own questions. One of which is Who you say that I am?

Jesus' question bears consideration beyond just what type of teacher He was. I believe His question invites further reflection because they are questions of identity and relationship. I would argue one is not entirely separate from the other—both personally and professionally.

Who we are and how we understand our selves—and one another—is always rooted in our relationships. I am the daughter of Stan and Sheila, the sister of Mark and Sarah. I am a Godmother, aunt, cousin and friend. I teacher and I have been a coach. While relationships change, others are essential our very being. Though I am not a coach to a group of girls at St Ignatius where I teach right now, I have been and I am to others and that relationship has meaning. Otherwise, my student wouldn't default to that title.

Some might argue that names or titles—words we use to speak about our relationship—don't matter. I disagree. Some time ago, I ran a half marathon with (my then) boyfriend. Our relationship wasn't in a good place. As Neil Diamond sang it was "love on the rocks." The last mile of the race, I was slowing down. I told him to finish strong. I said, Go ahead. I'll see you after! After the race, amidst thousands of finishers, I couldn't find him. When I did, I found him talking to a friend from high school. We hugged, high-fived and he introduced me to his buddy. "Anne, this is Matt. Matt, this is my girlfriend, Anne," he said. For a brief moment, I wasn't sure what he was going to say. I remember my relief. Why? That term had meaning; it has meaning. It's not used to introduce just anyone.  It speaks to a unique relationship that two people share and respect.

In the same way that Christ's question touches on the personal, it speaks to the professional. Long time coach and high school administrator, Jim Yergovich suggests that who people say we are indicates not only respect, but bears responsibility. He writes

If you ever doubt the significance of your role as a coach just consider as Father John Cusick invited coaches to do at a conference entitled "Coaching is Calling" in Chicago 1998, that apart from Father or Sister, "coach" is the only person in the school who is called by their title. He pointed out that students don't say "teacher" or "principal" but the coach they call "coach." Father Cusick reflected on what it was like after his ordination to suddenly have people calling him "Father." He felt good about the fact that people were giving him the sign of respect after all those years of preparation but also felt the sense of responsibility that went along with this title and role. Likewise, when our students call us "coach" this is a sign of respect, but there is also a great responsibility to be a positive influence in their lives. 
I agree. How we see ourselves and others is worth reflection and consideration. Being a friend always comes as a cost. There is a certain responsibility that goes with it—if you take it seriously. Those whom we know as coach, a teacher, our parent or the principal invites have a responsibility to us and others. William O'Malley, SJ writes "The first step toward wisdom is to call a thing by its right name. Then you'll handle it as it deserves." Are  they not worthy of our respect? 
Year 24. Tom Brady retired after 23....

Jesus' question Who do you say that I am? is just one of the many ways this great teacher invited us to consider who we are and what we value. How I answer HIS question in unfolding. It has deepened as a result of teaching this class. My relationship with Christ is on-going and one that essential to my understanding of self. My sophomores have been invited to consider His question this year. As their teacher, I hope they'll develop an answer for themselves...

Photo Credits
Jesus Teacher

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Magnanimity and More: Lessons for the New School Year from Pope Francis and Hard Knocks

Is September the other January? Do you find yourself saying "Happy New Year" to teachers and students? On her podcast "Happier" Gretchen Rubin shared that some teachers begin the school year with noisemakers and party hats for their students. While you won't find any banners, hats or confetti in my classroom, I have celebrated the new year by showing a few scenes from Hard Knocks Training Camp with the New York Jets.

In preparation for a new season and a new team, Aaron Rodgers is doing what he can to be a positive team leader, teammate and mentor. In Episode Two, he showed up at a team meeting wearing a black and white trucker hat inscribed with the same words he told his fellow QBs at the conclusion of practice (as seen here).
 Those words, that message resonate with one the Pope Francis. They are worth further reflection as we commence this school year.  

In 2013, the Holy Father met with Italian and Albanian students enrolled in Jesuit schools. While he prepared a formal speech (for publication) he went off script and spoke with these young people, answering their questions and engaging in dialogue (the transcription is also included). Both missives are important and inspiring.

He wrote,

In following what St Ignatius teaches us, the main element at school is to learn to be magnanimous. Magnanimity: this virtue of the great and the small (Non coerceri maximo contineri minimo, divinum est), which always makes us look at the horizon. What does being magnanimous mean? It means having a great heart, having greatness of mind; it means having great ideals, the wish to do great things to respond to what God asks of us. Hence also, for this very reason, to do well the routine things of every day and all the daily actions, tasks, meetings with people; doing the little everyday things with a great heart open to God and to others. It is therefore important to cultivate human formation with a view to magnanimity. School does not only broaden your intellectual dimension but also your human one. And I think that Jesuit schools take special care to develop human virtues: loyalty, respect, faithfulness and dedication
Magnanimity—the quality of being magnanimous. The virtue of great and small. How invitational. How practical. How relevant! We can't do the great things, the big things all the time. We want to, we work toward a great heart and mind but it's not easy. It's challenging. Therefore, we must not forget the small things. The day to day tasks and details. Little things mean a lot.
To speak of magnanimity to anyone involved in sports is no stretch. Athletes are constantly working on routine, every day things to get faster and stronger, in order to achieve personal and team wide goals. They strive to be great. None of us get their alone; formation is necessary.

But Pope Francis' message wasn't about soccer or football. He wasn't speaking to swimmers or divers. Rather, if he was—all the better—but the Holy Father's message for students who are guided by a shared tradition and a common faith. And this is where Rodgers has it right.

The Offensive Coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett asks him to speak. Slight caught off guard he says,

Oh I got nothing for you man. I’m just happy to be out here. Excited to be with you guys. All I’m going to say is that this camp is a long camp, right? Let’s just enjoy the little things every single day. Take time to laugh a little bit. Find a conversation at lunchtime with somebody new, don’t always sit in the same little group. Get to know your teammates a little bit. That’s part of the leadership role. And just enjoy the little moments. It goes by fast, and then you get to be really old and gray, and savoring every little moment. So savor them right now, right? Qs on 3, 1-2-3 Qs!”
Number eight starts with appreciation and joy. He looks to the horizon—acknowledging that it's not quick, nor easy. His message is to take each day as a gift. He suggests that humor requires slowing down. I love his recommendation: to talk to somebody new over a meal. Get out of your routine. Move beyond your safe space. Why? Because as leaders, they ought to model that for the good of others.  

This brief message inspired me to think of a personal challenge I have for myself at the advent of this new year. I too am going to make a point of having lunch with new colleagues. In the faculty dining room, it is all too easy to sit with the same group. In fact, I've seen others and I myself have jockeyed to be sure that I am a part of "x" table group. However, this year—call it a resolution or not—I want to let that go. I have a hunch that I will be a better, more well rounded and potentially kinder colleague if I employ this practice.

Those of us involved in Jesuit education believe that "education happens at tables." In Sports and Spirituality, my seniors quite literally sit at tables. At SI, where I teach, we encourage faculty to eat with one another because we learn about other students, our coursework, we disclose our challenges and laugh a whole lot over a meal. And most importantly, we gather at the Eucharistic table for the Mass as an entire school community throughout the year. We begin the year with Mass of the Holy Spirit and conclude it with the Transition Liturgy. The Holy sacrifice of the mass commemorates one of the most important meals in Jesus' lives. So too, it plays an role in our formation, our identity and more. This year, I will pray we grow in magnanimity.

Whether your seek to cherish the little things everyday or eat lunch with someone different, I hope this new year, new season offers opportunities and ways to grow magnanimous. Magnanimity on three!

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Fierce Love: A Memoir of Family, Faith and Purpose by Sonya Curry

Behind the two-time MVP, all-time three point leader and four-time NBA Champion Stephen Curry is a force to be reckoned with: his mom, Sonya. Basketball fans have seen Sonya Curry at many of her sons' games in the stands—clapping and shouting, hugging and crying. What they might not know about this beautiful mother, grandmother, daughter and teacher is that she too is a great athlete (played D1 volleyball at Virginia Tech), devout Christian, and an author. And, she might be someone worth turning to if you're looking for spiritual growth.

In his weekly email, one of my favorite Catholic writers Matthew Kelly wrote, "Prioritizing the right things can be a hard thing to do! So many aspects of life try to break us up into little bits, so it is critically important that we look at ourselves as a whole person on a daily basis. My challenge for you is to take an extra minute today to think about what you should prioritize. When is the last time you REALLY decided to make spiritual growth the #1 priority in your life? What do you have to lose? "

Do you agree? Is it difficult for you to prioritize the "right things?" How often do you think about what you should prioritize? Great questions. However, I would argue that athletes and coaches face these questions on a routine basis. The nature of "the game" or our game/sport demand no less. And yet for all parties, Where does spiritual growth land on your list of priorities. Is it not too valuable to leave at just another item to check off? Indeed that nature of that game is anything but ever complete.

Perhaps part of the challenge of making spiritual growth a priority, let alone the primary one, is that there's no one path....or maybe there are too many paths toward progress. I will speak for myself—I need a road map or recommendation. I do well with the basics—benchmarks, even bylaws. Fortunately, I found one in reading Sonya Curry's book: Fierce Love: A Memoir of Family, Faith and Purpose.

Watch the GMA interview here

My sense is that Sonya Curry intended to share her story. A 
path toward spiritual growth is most likely an byproduct of the book! But, I believe God is always working with us and through us. We, her readers, have a way. An example to use. A person to look to. A woman for whom many will compare and contrast. I can only encourage you to check it out for yourself and enjoy.  I did.

In case you're like me and in need for a few examples, consider the following.

  • When her children were young, they woke up at six in the morning for family devotion. This includes "reading a passage from the Bible, a new chapter each day." She writes: 
    • Of course, many mornings I realize that much of the time, they are all half asleep and want to be anywhere but here. Still, they do it. Not that they have a choice, but they do it. I stay focused, locked in. I am in playoff mode, wearing my game face. I truly believe that this ritual will have a long-lasting, maybe even a lifelong impact on my kids. I am completely committed to starting the day this way.

  • Once a week, the Currys host a family meeting. This was on Sundays, usually before they went back to church for the six o'clock evening service (they also went to a ten or eleven o'clock morning service as well as a Wednesday evening service. Sonya speaks authentically and powerfully of its importance.
    • In the same way, I have started parenting partly by relying on ritual and tradition. First and foremost, I believe that when you have children, you should take them to church. Teach them about God. It’s what you do. How I was brought up. But with my kids, I actually feel something deeper. I feel as if I am being drawn back to my roots. I don’t believe that it’s simply what I should do. I feel that God—going to church—is something more. It’s a pull. I want to go. It’s not just tradition. I want to make churchgoing an active focus of our lives. I want to establish going to church as part of our family’s routine.

      It’s beyond important. It’s a value I feel in my core. It’s how I want to raise my children. And so, every Sunday, I gather up Stephen and Seth, and we go. Sitting in church, flanked by my two boys, I feel the power and comfort of routine. I repeat the same action until it becomes habit.

      We rely on our rituals. I believe that. Then, after a short time, something subtle begins to happen. The ritual goes beyond a rote activity. I start to look forward to going. Sitting at the same spot every week. Greeting the same people. Reading and sharing the same prayers. Listening to the pastor’s sermon. All this has its own power. Soon I realize that this routine has become my survival. Going to church on Sunday offers a kind of sanity, a safe haven from the week. Something I can count on. A refuge. The routine becomes its own reward.

      In church, I look at Stephen and Seth, so young, so impressionable, and at this age, so squirmy. I smile at them and they smile back not knowing that I am training them, engulfing them in a sweet dose of spirituality that will last their lifetimes. At least I pray that it will. As I remember Proverbs 22: 6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

  • Sonya committed to not drinking alcohol while the children were still at home. Sonya writes, "I’m abstaining from alcohol now, but the day I drop her off at her dorm, I am coming home and pouring myself a huge glass of wine." I never thought that maybe kids should be concerned that their parents are having parties when THEY are not home. #ParentsCanRageToo

  • Sonya knows Scripture well, so well that I am not sure a single chapter is written without one passage or one reference that has meaning and relevance to her. I would love to ask her children about the prayer slips she left under their bed and in their rooms.

  • I pray with my feet. Sonya does too. She writes, 
    • I walk through our house at night. Sometimes I stop abruptly, drop to my knees, and pray. And sometimes I slow my walk so that I’m barely walking at all, and I talk to God. I talk to Him as I would a close and trusted friend.

  • I would be remiss if I didn't cite the powerful, honest and brave testimony that Sonya provided about the fact that Stephen Curry was even born. She shares going to Planned Parenthood with Dell and her decision not to go through another abortion. It is worth reading for yourself. As we know, the story doesn't end there. Steph's birth story brought me to tears—both happy tears and some funny ones (she thought he looked like E.T.).

  • Sonya Curry née Adams, grew up in Radford, VA—a member of the town's "first family of sports." She said "when I am eleven or twelve, my family—aunts, cousins and a few close friends—form an all-female sports team. It's no wonder she extends the analogy of sports to parenting. 
    • Maybe the idea of sports has become ingrained too deeply within my heart and soul, but before I get out of bed, I put on a game face. I prepare to bring it. To be a parent—in my opinion, to parent well—you have to bring your “A” game. Parenting is strenuous. Draining. Exhausting mentally and physically.I find it similar to playing a sport at a high level.

      I approach parenting the same way I did when I played volleyball in college and the same way I see Dell approaching professional basketball. You always have to think next play. It’s a term that athletes use. You’ve got to have a short memory. In the flow of a basketball game, you’ll inevitably make a bad play—you’ll miss a shot, throw an errant pass, turn the ball over, commit a dumb foul. You will make a mistake. It happens. Part of the game. You cannot dwell on that mistake. You have to correct in the moment, adjust on the fly, change your attitude and your mindset instantaneously. In basketball and in parenting, things happen. Surprises. The unexpected. And those moments that don’t turn out the way you planned or hoped for or even envisioned—those mistakes—influence other human beings. Your teammates.
Preach, Sister Sonya. Preach.
Although her path toward spiritual growth is different than mine, I was nothing short of inspired and intrigued by this woman. I am not a parent, but I admire she "had the courage to parent" and believe she offers grounded and impressive examples of how she did that and the effects—good and bad that came with it. I will admit, I concluded this book by believing Steph Curry IS as special, loving and charismatic as he appears to be. That's not just his doing—his parents and their commitment to their Christian faith are part of the equation. I read "Fierce Love" because I'm a fan of her son, but now I can't help but cheer for her and the success of this chapter of her life. Thank you, Sonya. I hope to meet you someday, soon.

Photo Credits
Book Cover
Interview on GMA
Sonya and Steph
Young Kids

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Five Thoughts from Hard Knocks: The Jets 2023 Opener

Now in it's 17th season, HBO's Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the New York Jets has taken flight. Though college football seems to have met a lot of turbulence, this NFL's season is ready for take off. 

Producers of the show must be thrilled with the addition of the future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. For Jets fans, between the defect from Green Bay and plenty of youthful talent, there's so much to be excited about and reasons to remain hopeful. I offer but five observations from the season opener and look forward to what the show, and the season reveal. J-E-T-S.... Jets! Jets! Jets!

1. From the Flight Deck
Every season opens with the head coach offering a motivational speech, a unconventional cry to "wake up the echoes" and set the tone for the season. The Jets—veterans, rookies, coaches and those trying to make the team—are together in the film room. It's obvious they aren't sure where Coach Saleh is taking them when encourages them to take out their pens or pencils and reveals what brought him into deep thought. 

He names the only bird that can take down an eagle is the crow. After all, who wants to identify with a crow? #gross.

Instead, Saleh addresses what the eagle must do to prevail: climb higher and higher. He asks, 

What are you doing to find that little bit more to get us closer to being a great team...

You finish practice: Now what? You finish meetings: Now what? You finish lifting... a rep...

And if we come together and challenge ourselves to do a little bit more—everyday. The crows will fall by themselves. Let's embrace what we are capable of. Let's embrace that we're not the same Jets. 
Saleh made a good point. I love that question of "Now what?" It would have been better if the Jets were...well....the Eagles.

2. Fun vs. Fundamentals
Much like his teammates, I too am obsessed with Aaron Rodgers ability to throw the no-look pass. His talent only makes me wonder how good #8 must be on the basketball court. 

Rodgers mentors Zach Wilson, the QB the Jets took as the second pick in the 2021 NFL. As noted, it must be hard to be brought in as the new face of an organization only to be replaced by a legend. Regardless, from the looks of it, Rodgers and Wilson work well together. Especially in one of  two areas: fun and fundamentals.

Schreiber said "Today's lesson: no look passes are fun. Avoiding sacks? Fundamental." I love the distinction. Coaches, take note. Players, pay attention. Let's pronounce and practice both.

3. Pylon Game
Every coach and every athlete cannot and should not forget: keep training fun. This is essential as the hours are many, and the days are long. Fun need not be a mindset, it can be practiced and played through games. Enter in the pylon game. So basic, so simple, and so on point. QBs need to hit a target. Why not make it a pylon, points included. 

The psychological piece keeps it spicy. Noted.

4. DeMarcus Ware
One of the great joys in life is to be surprised by the gifts and talents of a friend or teammate—off the field.

A tradition at St. Ignatius College Prep was FML: Friday Morning Liturgy at 8:00 a.m. in Orradre Chapel. Many sports teams attended mass together during the season, before a big game, etc. In the fall, the football team sat together in shirt and tie every Friday, without fail.

I can still see the reactions of the squad, when one of their teammates Danny, came to the microphone. The fact that Danny had a great voice wasn't surprising, No. It's just that he was that good. 

He sang the lyrics for "Jesus Give Us Your Peace" solo. He invited the congregation to join in the refrain, which was easy to do. His teammates could not WAIT to contribute. He was confident and sharing his talent truly made mass better—more prayerful, more joyful, all of it.

Before the Jets scrimmage against the Browns, NFL Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware takes the stage to sing the national anthem. Everyone is surprised. Where did that come from?! Does Ware have a Hall of Fame voice? Not really. Does he sing a tough song well. He does. Just another reason to respect the man.

Congrats DeMarcus.

5. That which does not disappoint.
If you're like me, you have a few people you can turn to to discuss your excitement and anticipation for Hard Knocks. Always my go-to girl, Haley said, "I can't wait for the music and Liev Schreiber." The "Voice of God" arrives via helicopter. It's overstated, yet Schreiber totally rolls with it.... and that bass line from  "Voices Inside My Head" by The Police keeps it going.

Indeed both the music and the narration are masterful. The usage of creative, often contemporary music only highlights what is taking place on the field. For example, the interview with Coach Saleh is Hard Knocks at its best when set to the music of Ed Sheeran.

He's asked: Aaron Rogers: What has be brought to your team?

Saleh: He's obviously the best Quarterback I've ever had on the team.

Press play on Sheeran's hit "Shivers."  The lyrics, the beat, capture what words cannot.

Back to Saleh: 
Everyone is chasing the top tier QB because they change teams, they change locker rooms. 

It's just so good. Hard Knocks—you don't disappoint.

In Conclusion
The Voice of God (in case you haven't figured it out by now, Liev Schreiber) said that 

Training camp is about getting better. Part of that process is discovering who you are...

Some teams can't handle the glare of bright lights, but a Future hall of Famer is leading these Jets, showing them the way and the young roster is responding.

I have questions that have yet to be answered: Is Rodgers just acting, or is he really this type of a teammate? Will I end up making the Jets my AFC team? Will Saleh succeed? 

From both the offensive and defensive Rookies of the Year: Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner to a dynamic coaching staff and a roster that has yet to be set, it's great to have an inside look into what motivates a team, the importance of leadership, how individuals can make a difference, why we love this beautiful, violent, demanding, team sport. 

Enjoy the show. I look forward to the soundtrack.

Photo Credits
Hard Knocks logo
Coach Saleh
Zach and crew
Liev and Aaron
Aaron sidelines

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Steph Curry: Underrated—Reflection and Discussion Guide

How do you describe Stephen Curry? Four-time NBA Champion? Two-time MVP? The all-time three point leader. Greatest shooter in the game? Do you quote what his Twitter handle states: Believer. Husband 2@ayeshacurry, father to Riley, Ryan and Canon, son, brother. Warriors guard. Davidson Wildcat. BAYC. Philippians 4:13 #ChangeTheGameForGood?!

While my friend Alan believes Steph leads the league in (understated) swagger, I think there's only one way to describe the man: clutch. With this eagle putt at the American Century Classic, just one day after his hole-in-one (his second of all time), he had sports fans all over the country thinking exactly what he, Wardell Stephen Curry II, thought long ago. He's different

Such is the primary claim that Curry makes in the Apple TV documentary, Underrated. The two hour film details "how a little-known high school prospect from North Carolina became a generational superstar," but also offers us a whole lot to think about in sports and in spirituality.

I have created the following discussion guide, in tandem with the article From Underrated to Undeniable: How Stephen Curry Went From 3-Star Prospect to All-time 3-Point Leader. I hope this thematic focus will only add to your enjoyment and appreciation of Steph Curry and his story. I will be using it this Fall! Open to amendments and suggestions.

According to the “the trailer for Curry's documentary broke his career into five subcategories; unknown, undersized, underestimated, unstoppable and undeniable. He overcame obstacles every step of the way”. I have blended their information, notes from watching the documentary and questions grounded in Sports and Spirituality for this discussion guide. 

Stephen Curry was only a three-star prospect in high school, ranked as the 16th-best player in North Carolina, 60th best point guard in the nation and the 300th best player overall in the Class of 2006. Curry didn't receive any offers from the major conference schools and was only offered a walk-on at his parent's Alma-Mater Virginia Tech. Getting offers from Davidson, Winthrop and Virginia Commonwealth, Curry settled on Davidson.

  • As you watch the program, consider what advantages or opportunities were afforded to Steph given that he was “unknown.”

  • To what degree could being “unknown” serve as an advantage?

  • What are the gifts and graces of being “unknown?”

At 6'2 headed into college and 6'3 in the NBA, talent evaluators were wary of Curry's smaller frame. Some scouts viewed him as too small to play the shooting guard position and didn't think point guard was his natural position. In addition, top scorers on championship teams are traditionally much taller than Curry, and some questioned if a player at his size could break that mold.

  • At a certain age, Steph comes to the realization that he wasn’t going to grow much taller. He admitted “It never killed my love for the game. It was a very difficult time. I had to learn how to embrace the challenge of it.” What are some your self-realizations? How did you respond? Who did you turn to for support? 

  • While athletes can improve their speed, strength, stature—physical height is fixed. In what ways does Steph work with this limitation? Around it?

  • It’s human to think about what we do not have and focus on our limitations, wishing something might change. How often to you take inventory of the gifts you have? When and how do you do that? Do you give thanks for those inherent talents and abilities?

Since he entered the league in 2009, Stephen Curry has been the shortest player to win an NBA Championship as the team’s leading scorer. In that span, Curry is one of three players 6’3 or shorter to win a regular season MVP (joining Derrick Rose in 2011 and Russell Westbrook in 2017) and the only player to win multiple MVPs. In 2022, Curry became one of six players in NBA history to win a Finals MVP at 6’3 or shorter (Jerry West, Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas, Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker).

  • Coaches, analysts and other players had reasons for underestimating Steph Curry. His mother, Sonya Curry said “What I liked about Coach McKillop was that it wasn’t about proving other people wrong as it was about proving himself RIGHT.” Underestimating an athlete, a coach, a student, artist, musician is not uncommon. 

  • When it a time you underestimated someone? What lessons did you learn?

  • Do you tend to underestimate others? How hard is it for you to admit if you’re wrong?

In the 2009 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves had two opportunities to select Curry before the Warriors picked seventh overall. With the fifth and sixth picks, the Timberwolves selected two point guards, Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn, instead. Curry has gone on to be an NBA All-Star nine times, while Rubio and Flynn never had such an honor.

Throughout his championship runs, many pundits still underestimated Curry's ability to lead a title team. In 2015, some claimed that the title was tainted due to injuries to key players on the Cavaliers. And in 2017 and 2018, it was Durant who received the NBA Finals MVP Award.

In 2022, the Warriors again won the title – their fourth in eight years – and Curry captured his first Finals MVP, averaging 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the Dubs’ six-game series victory over the Celtics.

  • Time and again, Steph executes. He has made the basket on the free throw line and drained the three. This summer he sank the putt for the W at a golf tournament.
    • Can one take steps to become “clutch?” 
    • Do you think there is a discipline to this process?

  • How do you eliminate distraction?!

  • How do you become unstoppable?

With 3,390 regular season 3-pointers and 618 playoff splashes, Stephen Curry has cemented himself statistically as the top shooter in NBA history. Curry is a member of the NBA's 75th-anniversary team, having been named to nine All-Star and nine All-NBA teams. He has won four championships, two MVPs, two scoring titles, a Finals MVP, a Western Conference Finals MVP and an All-Star Game MVP – he has achieved nearly every accolade possible in the sport.

  • Underrated chronicles the effort it takes for Steph to earn his college degree. Do you think accomplishing goals—being undeniable—in one area of life leads to other areas, as well?

Many people recognize that Steph is a “man of God.” I would like to know in what ways Steph’s Christian faith grounds him. Though he does not explicitly mention prayer, early in the program he notes “I'm constantly trying to find the space just to be able to to survey my life, survey what's going onto let my mind think about, How did I get here

  • What if we were to think about prayer as that space? That place where we can survey our own lives… That time to hit pause to consider how we have gotten to where we are… And where we want to be?! Does that resonate with your understanding of prayer?


  • In addition to his parents, it’s obvious that Coach McKillop is a seminal figure in Steph’s life. His presence, persona and coaching style are worth analysis. What impresses or strikes you about their relationship?

  • Coach McKillop conceded that one reason he decided to recruit Stephen Curry is because “He showed a real emotional toughness that is so rare…” What does emotional toughness mean? What does it look like to you?

  • When Steph accepted the offer from Davidson, his mom said, "Don’t worry coach, we’ll fatten him up.”
    Coach McKillop turned around any said, “Don’t worry about that. We’ll take him as he is.”
    Steph said, “That gave me so much confidence in terms of what I bring to the table.” What feeds your confidence?


  • Steph’s journey is rooted in a longtime understanding that he’s different. He said, “That’s when I realized, I’m different. And the temptation for me at that time was the focus on what I could not do. But I knew I could shoot. That is what I could bring to the team.”

  • Time and again, Steph Curry cites his own realization that he is different. As he shares this understanding, it’s clear that being different is not pejorative. It it not something to be ashamed or that ought to change. Rather, it speaks of self-acceptance. How can we help others do see being different as a gift and a step toward self-empowerment?

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